Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ Category

Ordinary day

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

What does an ordinary day look like for us here in Salatiga? That’s a little hard to say because two days are seldom alike. However, putting together happenings of several days may give you a flavor of what we experience.

looking towards street

looking towards street

We may wake up to the 4:00 a.m. Islam call to prayer. The closest mosque is almost “in our front yard” and there are two others within 5 blocks of us. Lately, we actually sleep through that but wake up to hear the ringing of the food cart which is brought along the street about 5:15 a.m. By the way, our bedroom is very close to the street and we keep the windows open for cool air. (The photo looking toward the street is not taken in early morning, but you can see how close the mosque is! It is the red roof with white cupola.)



After our morning tea, 3 or 4 days a week we take the two dogs for a half hour walk. It’s a nice cool time of day. We have a defined route we take which takes us through small streets and through some rice paddies. The dogs are always on the lookout for cats and chickens of which there are plenty of both on the walk. They come back to the house, tired and flop on the floor.

snack break

snack break

We clean up (watching for cockroaches in the shower), eat breakfast, talk a bit with our house-help who arrives about 8:30 and then walk to the office. It’s about a 15-minute walk—uphill to the office and downhill coming home. Schools start at 7:00 in the morning, so that when we walk by at 9:00, the kids are on morning break. They gather around the food carts buying various foods. A couple of the vendors are beginning to know us. They comment if we are late or if only one of us is walking. We pass a large open field where many different kinds of activities take place. School children have their P.E classes there, concerts are held, people walk the track for exercise, public celebrations are held, and many activities we don’t know about. There are food carts around the edge. (The photos showing our walk are in order as we go to the office.  However, we are sure it doesn’t matter to anyone else but us!)



The day is usually spent in the office. However, often unexpected things arise:
– We may get word that MCC has a new recruit. Can we contact the organization to see about suitability. (We have placed two new workers since we are here.)
– We learn that a service worker (and family) is not feeling well. (Twice we’ve had someone need to go to the hospital 1 -2 hours away.)
– We learn of the sudden death of the father of a future IVEPer. Someone needs to attend the funeral 4 hours away.
– MCC Akron writes that they need some documents immediately.
– We learn that a service worker’s visa will not be extended after December unless government gives special approval. This requires meetings with the organization.
– The electricity suddenly goes off which means our laptops won’t last long because of small battery and those with desktops also won’t work. (This happened only once—and we all went home!)
But we also have happenings that are planned:
– Meetings are  scheduled– in town or out of town
– We helped moved furniture from the home of service worker who left.
– We organized the storage rooms at the office.
– Sally Jo weeded and then inventoried the library.



We usually come home for lunch. That’s a half hour walk in the heat of the day. When we return to the office we need to spend time cooling down! A couple of days a week we do stay in town for lunch. We usually go to a small “warung” for gado-gado or nasi goreng.

When we return home at end of the day, we have our afternoon tea on our front porch. The dogs know that when we have tea, we also have good things to eat and hope for a bite! The dogs enjoy watching activities on the street—and always are on the lookout for cats! Our evenings are relaxation time—either reading, writing, or playing games.

We have very good house-help. She loves to cook and is very good. She does both American and Indonesian foods. We have eaten well here.


Sunday, November 1st, 2015
Joice and parents

Joice and parents

Joice is a GC alum. When she was in Goshen she was at our house many times. She now lives in Semarang and we wanted to spend some time with her. We had a good lunch with her and her parents. They then showed us some of the sites of Semarang.

Semarang is on the north coast of Java about 1½ hour from Salatiga. It is the 6th largest city in Indonesia with about 2 million population. It was an important port during the Dutch colonial period and still is today. The Dutch took over the city in the late 1600s and were there until the Japanese occupied it 1942-1945. We stopped by the beach to view the sea.

Blenduk Church

Blenduk Church

The Immanuel Protestant Church of Western Indonesia  (Gereja Protestan Indonesia Barat Immanuel), better known as Blenduk Church was built in 1753; it is the oldest church in the province. The church has a large copper dome from which it gets its name “Blenduk”, the Javanese word for “dome.” Inside there is still a large pipe organ, though it no longer works. There is a spiral staircase which leads to the second floor.

Lawang Sewu was built as the headquarters of the Dutch East Indies Railway Company.  The name Lawang Sewu is Javanese and means “Thousand Doors”. The name comes from its design, with numerous doors and arcs. The building has about 600 large windows. The building was completed in 1907. When the Japanese took over Indonesia, they used the basement as a prison and execution area.

Sam Poo Kong is the oldest Chinese temple in Semarang.  Originally established by the Chinese Muslim explorer Zheng He in the early 1400s, it is now shared by Indonesians of multiple religious denominations, including Muslims and Buddhists.

Great Mosque

Great Mosque

The Great Mosque of Central Java was completed in 2006. There are three central buildings arranged in the shape of a U, with the domed mosque at the centre; all buildings have pitched, tiled roofs, while the central mosque has four minarets. The central roof resembles the roof of a “joglo”, the traditional Javanese house, and symbolizes the rising steps toward heaven or to gain God’s blessing. The long buildings forming the arms of the U house a library and auditorium. In the central courtyard are six large hydraulically operated umbrellas, inspired by the ones in Medina, which are used to protect worshipers; the six umbrellas represent the six tenets of Islam theology. At the open end of the U is a series of Arabic-style arches standing on 25 pillars, each representing one of the named prophets in Islam. Beyond the arches is an inscription on a 3.2-metre (10 ft) tall, 7.8 ton stone from Mount Merapi. Nearby is the 99-metre tall tower, designed to resemble the minaret of a mosque in Kudus and used to call Muslims to prayer. The whole complex is difficult to capture in photos. Photos on the web give a fairer view of the magnificent area!

In Semarang’s Chinatown Tay Kak Sie is another old Chinese temple. It was established in 1746 and accommodates worshippers from three religions: Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

One last place we visited is the world’s largest Anabaptist church. It was completed in 2006 and holds 12,000 people. It will be the site of the Mennonite World Conference in 2021.

YALTers (and Pati)

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

YAMEN = Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network
SALT = Serving and Learning Together

Both programs are for young people ages 18-30. YAMEN is a joint program of MCC and Mennonite World Conference and exchanges are outside of U.S. and Canada. SALT is a program of MCC and involves exchanges between U.S./Canada and another country.

YALTers & MCCers

YALTers & MCCers

This year there are eight YALTers here in Indonesia from Uganda, Laos, Kenya, India, Canada, and US (3). They just finished six weeks language learning and cultural orientation here in Salatiga. We were not involved in the actual programming; we were just friends with them. We climbed Andong with them (described in an earlier blog), talked with them when they hung out at the office, and had lunch with them every Friday when all MCC staff ate together. During their last week in Salatiga we also helped host an International Supper with all MCC staff when everyone prepared food from their respective countries. It was delicious.

Saturday (Oct 17) we delivered three of the YALTers to their new assignments where they will live and work for the next nine months. It was a long day but enjoyable. The areas we went to are near the Muria Mountains which is the area of the first Indonesian Mennonites.

loading first bike

loading first bike

We left the house at 6:45 am, picked up the YALTers, helping them say good-by to the Salatiga families and loading their bikes and luggage. We dropped Sheria (from Uganda) in Demak meeting her new host family. The next stop was Kudus where we left Samanta (from India). They served us lunch at 11. Then on to Puncel, a very small village 2 hours from Kudus. Panya (from Laos) will be working there. As we got out of the car in Puncel the host father came “bouncing” out of the house and said we had hosted him in Goshen! (In 2006 there was a group of Indonesian pastors on a tour in the U.S. They visited Goshen and we hosted them for a meal. He even had the photo to prove it!) What an amazing coincidence! Panya had had a birthday just 3 days prior and they had a traditional Javanese birthday celebration. So we had another lunch at 2:30! And unloaded the last of three bikes.

By 3:15 we were able to leave and drove 2 hours to Pati where we planned to meet some friends. Paul and Meiske are the parents of Martin (who lives in Goshen) and Nathan (who we had learned to know quite well when he attended Goshen College.) Nathan now lives in Surabaya, a 6-hour drive, but came to see us. Paul and Meiske asked us to speak at their church service at 6:00 pm. So after driving all day, Ron gave a short talk. We then had supper – ikan bakar (grilled fish) at a small restaurant! What a lot of eating!

Sunday we went to the 6:30 am church service, had brunch with our friends, and were able to leave about 11. We decided to take little roads back to Salatiga so it took longer but the smaller villages were much more interesting.



Monday we had a wonderful R & R at a local resort. For a total of $30 we each got a one-hour massage, drink, snack, lunch, and use of the sauna, whirlpool and swimming pool.





Yogyakarta Weekend

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

We first lived in Indonesia in Yogyakarta (Yogya) in 2001 when we led a group of Goshen College students on SST. Since that time we have kept in contact with two members of the Indonesia team that helped us then. We were quite excited to be able to combine visiting our friends and meeting a current MCCer during a recent weekend in Yogya.

special speaker at UGM

special speaker at UGM

Greg lectures at Gadja Mada University in the graduate program of the CRCS, Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies. The CRCS had a special two-day program celebrating its 15 years. We were able to attend the end of a major lecture by a notable Muslim scholar from Bangkok, Thailand. We talked with him afterwards and learned that he knows the Mennonites very well and has been a lecturer at the Summer Peace Institute at EMU. We attended a seminar led by alumni of the program. We met a number of Greg’s co-workers as well as many of his students. We were amazed at how many connections we could make via MCC.

The next day we visited University of Duta Wacana and met our friends from SST days. The “team” from the language department has changed but we met both new and old team members as well as the Rektor of the University. We had a wonderful time reminiscing and learning about their new programs.

kami berdua

kami berdua

The following afternoon one of our friends took us to Ganjuran Church, Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Roman Catholic Church located about 20 km from Yogya. This was a fascinating church with its integration of Javanese culture and Christianity. The church itself is built as a large joglo, a traditional Javanese house. It is a large building with columns and without walls. The roof forms a pyramid-like structure and is said to mimic a mountain. There are many traditional Javanese carvings. The angels at the altar are dressed as wayang characters. (Wayang is a traditional dance using themes from the Ramayana story.)

The original church was built in 1927 and then rebuilt in 2006 when the original was destroyed by the earthquake. Beside the church is a tall Hindu-type temple called a “candi.” There are spigots where one can take “holy” water and then pray at the candi. Around the courtyard are the Stations of the Cross with reliefs in classic Hindu/Javanese design.

pastor and husband

pastor and husband

Sunday we attended the GKMI (Mennonite) church where we had also worshipped in 2001. The pastor was an Indonesian woman whose ordination in 2008 we had attended. She and her husband studied at AMBS (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminaries) and know our friends in Goshen/Elkhart. We also were able to reconnect with a former MCC staff member who we had not seen since 2006.

We ended our time in Yogya with Sunday lunch with our two very good friends from SST days. Their children are growing and are a joy to be with.

What a wonderful weekend of memories and connections!


Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Reog is a traditional dance, originating in East Java. There are several versions of the story, its origins, and the type of dance. The dance which we saw featured physical strength and invoked magical spirits through trances.



One version of the story says that a king had a beautiful daughter who he wished to be married. After consultations with the gods, the daughter said she would only marry a man who could present an exciting dance performance that had never before been performed and with gamelan music. There should be 144 twin horses and in the end he should be able to present her father with a two-headed beast. There is much more to the story but this is more-or-less the part that we saw.

We were invited to a small village about ½-hour motor bike ride from our house. We saw the dance performed three times by varying degrees of experience. Unfortunately, when the more experienced, and probably better, performers began, we had already been there 5 hours—much of the time standing in the sun so were tired and ready to leave. The performance seemed to be a part of a “county fair” event. It was held in a large open area with a lot of food stalls, “fair- type” games for children, souvenir stands, etc. A large area was roped off in which the dance took place.

forming a circle

forming a circle

Six dancers with six large wooden horses did battle with one another. The dance included a lot of Javanese dance footwork. At one point, they all came into a circle and came out in a trance. Toward the end, the “head” spiritual man enticed them with water and flowers. Eventually they fell down and passed out. At some points in the trance, the dancers acted like horses, drinking water out of a tub and eating food like a horse. It was all fascinating—and a bit unreal.

When we were ready to leave our hosts thought we should have a number of photos taken—with the horses and with some of the dancers. We should note that the people we were with knew almost no English so most of what we learned was through our limited Bahasa Indonesia (and the web)!

Idul Adha

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Eid al-Adha (or Idul Adha as known in Indonesia) is the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year.  The first is Eid al-Fitri (Idul Fitri) which celebrates the end of the month of Ramadan (fasting). Idul Adha celebrates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. The meat from the sacrificed animal is usually divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.

For us, the celebration started the evening before with a parade of children on the street in front of our house. The parade was led by children chanting and carrying home-made objects on poles. Then came a band with drums and homemade marimbas. It continued the entire night with prayers, chanting, and drumming from the local mosque, broadcast through the loudspeaker. The mosque is just across the street from our bedroom! We sleep with our windows open for fresh, cool air. (Not much sleeping that night.)

For the celebration we were hosted/escorted to a small village mosque/school by a young Indonesian family. We witnessed the prayerful sacrifice of many male sheep, goats and cattle. It was not easy to watch for us. Even our female host cringed as we heard the baleful cries of the sheep.

It was fascinating to see how well organized the process was. There were men who brought the animal to the area and announced the family who was donating. There were others then who tied the animal and brought it to the exact spot where it would be sacrificed. We’re not sure, but it seemed as though these men needed to calm the animal and make it “willing” to be sacrificed. The Imam and some others prayed over the animal and then cut its throat. Another group of men carried the body to an open area and hung it up. Another group of men then skinned and cleaned it. And still more men cut it in chunks to be divided among the various groups of people.

We ended our time with this friendly family and a small meal at their house.

Returning “home”

Saturday, September 19th, 2015
where we are

where we are

It’s been 7 years since we last left Indonesia. Many things feel the same but, of course, changes have happened.

MCC Indonesia team

MCC Indonesia team

We arrived in Salatiga and immediately jumped into the life of MCC. We went with the others to Saleh Putih which is a “resort”, a short distance up the mountain, not far from town for 3 days of team meetings. It was a good way to meet and learn to know new MCCers and to reconnect with those we knew from previous times. There are 8 MCC staff in the office here. Three of the national staff we have known since 2005. One of those we learned to know when she was an IVEPer and came to the States. Also here now are 8 YALTers*—4 from North America and 4 from other countries (Laos, Kenya, Uganda, and India). Of course, we knew the one from Laos since we had just been there 2 months ago and had been a part of his preparation to come. We discovered the one from Uganda lived not far from the MCC office in Kampala and we are sure we must have crossed paths during our 15 months in Uganda 4 years ago!

we made it

we made it

Team meetings are a time for mostly learning on a chosen topic with some time just for relaxation. The meetings ended with an optional afternoon climb up Gunung Andong, a 4800 foot nearby mountain. We had been up twice before in 2008. It was hard work but great fun. The “young” YALTers were even tired. We ended the day at an Indonesian home for supper.

As an aside, when we flew out of O’Hare airport we watched as an American Airline pilot flew his last flight before retirement. The tradition is that the airplane goes through a shower of water as it leaves the terminal. It was fun to see.

*YALT = YAMEN + SALT. Two MCC 1-year programs for young people.

Indonesia 2005-06, Part 3

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

This year we have enjoyed attending the church that meets on the seminary campus next door to the university. The building itself is full of Papuan and Christian symbolism. The bas relief behind the pulpit depicts people from a variety of cultures in Papua sitting at the table with Christ. We are often treated to very energetic music. After the Sunday service we have on occasion been invited to the home of a church leader for coffee. At such an event recently a banner was presented by a visitor from the Netherlands.

MCC Funded Library
Sally Jo has devoted some time recently to helping a newly-develop small community library that is being set up by two young men who spent time in North America under the MCC International Visitor Exchange Program.

Outing to Amay Beach
A family that we have learned to know offered to take us and other friends to a very beautiful beach about two hours away. We enjoyed salt water and waves as well as a near-by fresh water river. It was a wonderful Saturday!

MCC Retreat
We recently enjoyed the annual MCC retreat at a beautiful resort beach hotel on the island of Lombok. It included all MCC Indonesia personnel and their families, about 40 people. The stay at the hotel included a free massage, and there were also times for singing, sand castle competition, and small group discussions. On talent night we demonstrated and taught the Texas Waltz.

Lombok Excursions
While at retreat we had opportunities to see more of the island of Lombok horse-drawn carts, a hindu temple, craft making, a beautiful waterfalls, and an evening meal in a nice restaurant. We also took a one-day excursion to a nearby island for snorkeling and swimming.

Aceh Tsunami Recovery
Following retreat we traveled with the MCC workers stationed in Aceh. We stayed with the program directors living in the capital city of Banda Aceh and saw first-hand the devastation still apparent from the earthquake and tsunami that occurred a little over a year ago destroyed homes and large ships carried 2 or 3 kilometers inland. The water marks left on buildings 3 km inland are about 9 ft high. Over 100,000 lives were lost about 1/3 of the population of the city. We visited the site of a mass grave for about 5,000. Clean water has been provided and a lot of new construction has taken place, but much more needs to be done with some people still living in tents.

Aceh Banda Aceh
The part of Banda Aceh that remains is a bustling city lots of street traffic and busy shops. As one of the more autonomous and more conservative religious areas of Indonesia, banners declare that all citizens are expected to wear Islamic dress. Aceh is also known for its excellent coffee production and coffee shops, one of which we enjoyed visiting.

Aceh Samalanga
We traveled 4 hours from Banda Aceh to Samalanga, a more rural area also affected by the tsunami. We stayed with 2 American MCC workers and their Acehnese partners. They took us by motorcycle, over less than perfect roads, to see several projects related to the recovery of the fishing industry building structures for boiling and drying fish as well as new boat construction.

Back in Papua, we experienced a violent protest and response by paramilitary police on our campus on March 16 that resulted in the closure of the university for one week and little activity the second week following the incident. We were not the targets, but as a precaution we moved to another town for 4 nights and then returned home when things had calmed down. During this time we stayed in close touch with and received a lot of support from our church friends and neighbors.

Buddhist Temple
Although the dominant religion in Papua is Christianity, other religions found in Indonesia are also found here especially in urban areas. On a hill overlooking the Jayapura harbor is a beautiful Buddhist temple and grounds.

Holiday outing
All Christian, Moslem, Hindu, and Buddhist holidays are observed here. So, on the Hindu New Year (30 March) we joined friends to visit a Papuan village and enjoy a nearby stream. The cold, clear water rushing over rocks was wonderful! We were also introduced to a common plant here known as the shy plant because its leaves close tightly whenever they are touched.

Special activities for Easter extended from Good Friday through Easter Monday. At our church on Easter Sunday there was special music by a children’s choir and a women’s choir as well as a fellowship time with snacks after church. Children and youth, who were camping in the seminary grounds for the entire period, also had an Easter egg hunt after church.

UNCEN Activities Beach Trip
Sally Jo was invited to attend a post-Easter celebration organized by English students. After a worship service there was food and fun in the waves at a local beach.

Highland Guest House
After Easter we traveled with MCC friends visiting from Java to a highland guesthouse at an elevation of about 6000 feet overlooking the beautiful Baliem River valley. Daytime temperatures were pleasant, and nights were quite chilly. We stayed there two nights.

Highland Hiking and Vistas
To get to our guest house we flew 45 minutes from Jayapura to Wamena, traveled by taxi about an hour, and then hiked another 2 hours. On our return we hiked 5 hours, nearly the entire distance to Wamena, and then took a taxi for the last 3 kilometers. We also took a 4-hour hike further along the Baliem River valley during our full day at the guest house.

Highland River Crossings
Since it is near the end of the rainy season, the rivers and streams were very full, and some river banks were very muddy. So crossing them was a bit tricky at times!

Highland People
On our hikes we met many friendly people. Although traditional (un)dress is disappearing, many other traditional practices remain. It was good for us to experience a bit of the culture that we do not see in Jayapura, but from which some of our students come.

Highland Farms and Buildings
We enjoyed seeing traditional grass thatched houses, stone walls, and sweet potato agriculture in a region that was unknown to the rest of the world until about 60 years ago. Other structures now include churches, primary schools, and Indonesian military posts.

Papeda the local food
Papeda is a sticky, glu-like, base that is eaten with a kind of fish stew/soup. In a meal it replaces rice or potatoes. It comes from the trunk of the Sagu palm tree which is cut and ground into pulp that is then soaked and strained to get a liquid. From the dried liquid a type of flour is obtained which is then used to make papeda. We have photos of the initial process as well as of an MCC colleague demonstrating the final product.

Village on Stilts
We enjoyed a weekend outing with several university students to a village built on stilts over shallow water next to a long thin peninsula in the bay near Jayapura. To get there we used a narrow boat equipped with outriggers. A church, village offices, and all houses were connected by walkways on stilts. Gardening was even done in flatbed boxes. We waded through knee-deep water to reach an island and were also offered a ride in a dugout canoe. Starfish were found in the water and we observed small crabs moving balls of sand into interesting patterns. On the ocean side of the peninsula we enjoyed seeing the active surf.

HIV/AIDS Training
Sally Jo recently visited an HIV/AIDS training session for church leaders from across Papua that was hosted by an MCC partner organization. The participants are expected to implement additional trainings and educational activities in their home areas. One of the beginning activities asked small groups to discuss the question, Why is sexual activity so popular?

UNCEN Activities Elementary School
Ron was invited to attend a special day at a local elementary school. Activities planned and led by university students included aerobics, painting the school gate, cementing a new flag pole, and making artificial flowers from plastic grocery bags. The head teacher was eager to show the school garden. Ron and a faculty member led a short workshop for the teachers at the school.

Global Families Program
Global Families is an MCC program that helps to support students at all levels, elementary school through seminary, and their families who have significant financial need. Some live in remote (but beautiful) areas and others live in urban areas. We were privileged to accompany those in charge to visit some of the families and hear their stories and expressions of gratitude.

UNCEN Activities Mathematics
Ron has met with and assisted faculty members with their classes for future elementary school teachers. The topic recently was different number bases. Students working in groups investigated results using chips.

UNCEN Activities Library
Sally Jo has been working hard in the Education Department library. Broken shelves have been fixed and a lot of dirt and grime has been removed. Once the tables were cleared many students were eager to use the space and resources. In addition during the past two months she was finally able to make some progress in getting a computerized catalog system started and is now organizing training sessions for local staff.

Working with Faculty
Ron has spent significant time working with other faculty members, introducing them to the use of mathematical software, manipulatives, and games. Some of the materials were already here but were not being used because the instructions were written in English.

Outing to Sentani Waterfalls
We recently enjoyed a holiday outing to a waterfall on the side of Cyclops Mountain with good views of Lake Sentani. The climb was hot and sticky, but we were rewarded by beautiful cascades and a deep pool of clear cold water to jump into. On the return down we enjoyed the view of rain falling on distant mountains.

We will soon be leaving to return home. We will miss our town of Abepura and the minivan taxis that we have used to get around. We will miss the little fruit stands and food vendors along the street as well as the quiet little road just above our house.

Saying Good-Bye
Two days before departure a farewell was held in our honor.  It included speeches, good food, photo ops with the Vice-Rector and our Dean and with others, as well as two Cenderawasih University gold rings that were presented to us.  The following verses were quoted by our Dean:
Kalau ada jarum yang patah
Jangan disimpan dalam lemari
Kalau ada kata yang salah
Jangan disimpan dalam hati
Kalau ada sumur di lading
Bolehlah kita menumpang mandi
Kalau ada umur yang panjang
Bolehlah kita bersua lagi


If there is a broken needle
Don’t store it in the cupboard
If there is a false word
Don’t store it in the heart
If there is a well for cleaning
Let us join in a mandi (bath)
If we live a long time
Let us meet again.

On June 2 we left Jayapura by ship on a 6-day journey to Jakarta. About 12 well-wishers accompanied us to the harbor and waited until our ship Labobar arrived at 9 pm. We boarded at 10:30 pm and stayed up until departure at 1:20 am to see the lights of Jayapura disappear behind us. We went to sleep in very comfortable accommodations and were treated to three fine meals each day. On deck we had plenty of opportunities to rub shoulders and become acquainted with some of the 2000 or so passengers.

People and Harbor Activity
From an outside deck we could watch people as well as the loading and unloading of cargo.

Interesting Boats
Along the way we saw a lot of fishing activity and passed many interesting boats.

Ports of Call
We made three stops in Papua that included an early morning in Manokwari and a monument welcoming us to Sorong. We also saw the minarets in Makassar (Sulawesi) and navy ships in Surabaya (Java). A tug pulled us into our docking space in Jakarta.

Our Favorite Day
Our last day in Papua proved to be our favorite day of the trip. It began with a sunrise as we entered Manokwari harbor, passing a sister ship there, and meeting the son of our assistant Dean with three of his university friends. From there we passed beautiful mountains, including waterfalls all day long. In the evening we were greeted with a full rainbow over the Sorong harbor and a spectacular sunset a very nice way to remember our departure from Papua.

Indonesia 2005-06, Part 2

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Where in the World Are We?
The country of Indonesia is an archipelago of an estimated 17,000 islands stretching approximately 3,000 miles from Banda Aceh (location of 2004 tsunami) in the west to Jayapura in the east. We live and work in Abepura which is situated between Lake Sentani and Jayapura. From Jayapura/Abepura it is about a one and a half hour drive to the border of Papua New Guinea. The nearest town in PNG is Vanimo, about a one hour drive beyond the border. We traveled there recently to renew our Indonesian visas. (Satellite images courtesy of Google Earth)

We work on the original (old) campus of Universitas Cenderawasih (UNCEN). Cenderawasih means Bird of Paradise, and that bird is featured on the main entrance gate. Located near the main gate is a pedestrian overpass featuring Papuan motifs, as well as the Administration Building and other older buildings. The campus is also being updated with newer facilities.

Birthday Party
Our MCC co-worker decided to throw a birthday party for herself and asked us to help make 10 pies for the event. We also had help from a neighbor family, and the pies were baked, two at a time, in a small stove-top oven. All of her co-workers, friends, and students were invited, and on the day of the party over a hundred guests showed up at her house. In addition to pie, a meal of rice and noodles was served. Entertainment included music provided by a choir of her students. Needless to say, there was a lot of clean-up to do, but there was also time for an informal introduction to American square dancing! It was a fun event.

A Papuan Thanksgiving
We celebrated American Thanksgiving by going out to eat at a “Padang” restaurant with a couple of friends. The “menu” is literally placed on the table in its entirety. What you eat is what you pay for!

Papuan Wedding
We were invited to a wedding that was held in a church on one of the islands in Lake Sentani. The wedding party and all of the guests were transported to the island by Johnson (motor boats). The bridal party was escorted to the church by a drum and flute band. After the 2-hour church service and wedding ceremony we were all transported to another island for a reception at the home of the grooms parents. There we relaxed under palm trees surrounded by beautiful flowers and a nice breeze and were served a full meal.

MCC Team Meetings
On December 9 we returned to Java for MCC team meetings. We had an overnight in Jakarta with an opportunity to ride in a bajai. The next day we saw Javanese countryside through dirty train windows. Then four days of team meetings in a mountain resort provided a good time together with about 20 others, including North Americans as well as Indonesian staff. We worshiped together, shared the joys and frustrations of our assignments, did some planning for the future, and concluded with communion.

MCC Christmas Party
On December 16 all MCC personnel and their families who were in the Salatiga area celebrated Christmas together at the home of the country reps. Thirty-two people enjoyed a feast of chicken, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, beans, bread, pumpkin pie, mango pie, and decorated cookies. The evening ended with a gift exchange and some time for singing Christmas carols.

December 18 23 we traveled to Kalimantan with 3 MCC friends to view orang-utan at Tanjung Puting National Park. We traveled, ate, and slept on a small boat, accompanied by a crew of two and a travel guide, with just enough room for 5 of us to sleep on the upper deck under mosquito nets at night. We took a number of hikes through the rain forest and saw many orang-utan, especially at several feeding stations, but also elsewhere along the way. We had repeated sightings of two kinds of monkeys, gibbons, and many different beautiful birds.

Christmas Get-away
December 23 29 the two of us relaxed by ourselves at a beautiful Javanese get-away home near Klaten (30 minutes from Jogjakarta) provided by friends. It is located in the middle of a small traditional village and came complete with house help, gardener, and driver who took care of us royally! We also had time for shopping and meeting up with friends from Jogjakarta. On Christmas day we had a special meal of gado-gado, chicken, tofu, tempeh, rice, and fresh mango. We provided Christmas music from our laptop.

Return to Papua
On December 29 we left Java late at night. After a 4-hour lay-over in Bali, we continued on to Papua arriving at Timika on the south coast just after sunrise on December 30. From there we crossed rugged mountains the highest in Papua and had a direct view of the controversial Freeport mine. It is the worlds largest gold mine and the third largest copper mine. Then it was on to our landing next to Lake Sentani near Abepura and Jayapura on the north coast. The crossing took about one hour.

Papuan New Year
It was good to be home and enjoy our own simple Christmas decorations again. We also found many preparations underway to bring in the New Year. As the New Year arrived fireworks were going off all around our town of Abepura, and there were about 6 batteries of cannon on the surrounding hills that were booming very loudly. One was just a little ways above our house! The sound and light show lasted about two hours but the cannons continued all night! Added to this, there are many “rumah natal” (Christmas houses) that were specially built and decorated and from which loud music was playing.

Hiking near Abepura
Directly across the valley from our home is a hill that we have wanted to climb. So a few weeks ago, with assistance from an English student and some friends and family, we made the trek. At the bottom we needed to negotiate thick mud from recent floods. Then we ascended mostly through forest and arrived at the top with views of Lake Sentani in the distance one way and the Jayapura bay the other way. Looking directly across towards the UNCEN campus and our house we could also see the devastation left by the floods to the fields below. We took a steep descent on the other side to a small kabun or farm where we saw pigs being washed down in their pens. We rested there a bit and scraped off grass seeds from our clothes with a knife blade before returning home.

Vanimo, PNG
We stayed at the Vanimo Beach Hotel with beautiful views of the bay. We also enjoyed a 3-hour walk around the entire peninsula. Not far from Vanimo are world-renowned surfing locations, but local children have been doing it for centuries on home-made boards.

Opening Lecture
As part of the start-up activities for a new semester Ron was asked to present an opening lecture for all of the students and some of the faculty members of PGSD (Elementary Education Program). So he gave a 1-hour talk on Learning Mathematical Concepts (in contrast to just learning procedures) illustrated by examples from arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. It was delivered almost entirely in Indonesian and was well received by about 150 attentive and engaged students. On short notice Sally Jo also gave a 5-minute report on her work in the School of Education library.

Trip to Serui
We recently made a trip to Serui to become acquainted with the family of a young woman who plans to be in North America next year under the International Visitor Exchange Program (IVEP) of MCC. Our trip began with a 1-hour flight by regular jet to Biak, which has one of the largest runways in Indonesia due to its strategic role during World War II. Because of flight schedules we needed to stay there overnight in a small hotel next to the airport but also next to the sea with gorgeous views across to Yapen Island. The next day we flew low (just high enough to get over the mountains) in a 20-seater plane, with full view of our pilots, to Serui on the other side of Yapen Island.

Serui: Evening walk
Our first evening there we enjoyed a long walk near the coast on the outskirts of Serui.

Serui: Visiting a family
The next day we were treated to a fabulous lunch by Stephannes family. In addition to her parents, we met her grandparents, siblings, aunt & uncle, and several friends. Pictured at the table are Sally Jo, the MCC staff person who traveled with us, Stephannes grandfather, parents, younger brother, and Stephanne herself. After lunch Ron had an opportunity to help Stephannes sister with her math homework, Stephanne worked with the MCC staff person on documents, Sally Jo got acquainted with her mother and grandmother, and many photos were taken, including one of the entire family.

Serui: Visiting schools and libraries
We needed to stay in Serui for 3 nights because there are scheduled flights only on 3 days a week. So one day arrangements were made for us to visit two schools — a middle school and a high school and a public library. Ron had a chance to interact with one class, and Sally Jo was able to experience 3 different libraries. The public library was only 2 years old and was quite impressive.

Lake Sentani
About a 30-minute drive from where we live is a large, beautiful fresh-water lake named Sentani. It sits at the foot of the Cyclops Mountains and includes many islands. Many people live around the lake and on the islands in houses built on stilts. Dug-out canoes are used for fishing and as a means of transportation. Pigs roam freely in the settlements. Birds that we have seen there include herons and terns. (As a side-note, during World War II General McArthur had his headquarters located on a hill overlooking Lake Sentani.)


UNCEN Yudisium (Graduation)
We have just had 3-hour graduation ceremony for about 400 students in the School of Education. In addition to receiving their diplomas or degrees, graduates recited a lengthy pledge to the country and to their university represented by two flags. It was also quite a style show, including one graduate adorned with Bird of Paradise (Cenderawasih) feathers. The lengthy time was eased by providing us with boxed snacks and drink, and even those on the podium were relaxed enough to use a cell phone while names were being read. As a result of us being introduced to the audience we met a young man afterwards, graduating in biology, who lived in our home town of Goshen two years ago under the MCC International Visitor Exchange Program! We had heard of him but did not realize that he was a student here at UNCEN.


Indonesia 2005-06, Part 1

Monday, November 7th, 2005

We are beginning an assignment with Mennonite Central Committee in Papua, Indonesia. This is made possible through a 1-year sabbatical from Goshen College. We will be serving as curriculum consultants at Cenderawasih University in Abepura, near Jayapura.

Our assignment began with a week of orientation at MCC headquarters in Akron, Pennsylvania, in July. It was exciting to meet about 35 others going to international assignments, including 6 of us going to Indonesia. We also enjoyed the new facilities, called the Welcoming Place, now used for orientations.

We left Los Angeles at night on August 8, lost August 9 over the International Date Line, and arrived in Singapore (via Hong Kong) in the afternoon of August 10, about 22 hours later! We spent a night there to rest up, but mainly to get our temporary visas for Indonesia. While there we enjoyed the national botanical gardens across the street from our guest house.

Arrival in Papua and Home Stay
From Singapore we flew to Jakarta and then took an overnight flight to Jayapura, Papua, arriving at about 9 am on August 12. After a lot of formalities we arrived at our hosts home for a one-week home stay. The purpose of the home stay is to immerse ourselves in Papuan culture and language as our first orientation to our assignment. We struggle with language, but have truly enjoyed their friendship. We also enjoyed delicious food and a trip to a beautiful local beach.

Introductions at UNCEN
During our home stay we also had one full day of introductions and orientation at Universitas Cenderawasi (UNCEN) where we will be working. We were happy to find out that our tasks will indeed be closely related to our specialties Ron working with the mathematics education faculty and Sally Jo working with the librarians. The day included a visit to the Rektor of the university in the administration building perched atop a small mountain as well as dinner out at a lovely restaurant hosted by the Dean of the education faculty.

In-country Orientation
After our first week in Papua, we made the 12-hour journey back to Java to join the other new MCCers for a few days of orientation at a cool mountain retreat near Salatiga. In addition to orientation sessions, our time together included worship, relaxation, a hike to ancient Hindu temple ruins and hot springs, and a concluding meal at a local fish restaurant.

Language Study
We began our language classes in Salatiga on August 24. We have a total of 4 hours of class per day (two 2-hour blocks) with two teachers at Satya Wachana University. It is difficult for us, but we feel we are making progress!

Our House
During this time of language study we are living in a small, but comfortable, house in Salatiga. We are the first occupants; so not everything is quite completed, but it more than serves our needs.

The first weekend in September we had an extra day due to a Friday holiday. So we decided to make a trip to Jogjakarta (3 hours away by small travel van) to visit close friends we had made nearly 5 years ago when we lead the Goshen College Study Service Term there.

Mt Merbabu
The neighborhood where we live is in the shadow of Mt Merbabu (altitude 10,000+ feet). After our first week here we joined other MCCers to go up the mountain. It is almost always climbed at night with flashlights. The two of us decided to stop at the 9,000 ft level after 5 hours of difficult climbing on slippery dusty trails. We huddled in a rocky cave to try to keep warm until sunrise. The morning was glorious!

Special Visitors
This past weekend a team of 10 visitors representing MCC constituencies in the US, Canada, and Europe arrived in Salatiga. They will be in the country for about 3 weeks, and all MCCers in the Salatiga area participated in 3 days of seminars and orientation activities for them including reports from MCC partners from various parts of Indonesia, a graduation party for university education students from disadvantaged areas, and worship at a local Mennonite church. We had several opportunities to practice our language skills!

We have enjoyed getting to know our surroundings here in Salatiga for the past 5 weeks. It is a bustling small city of 130,000. Sights include streets full of motorcycles, becaks (pedicabs), dokars (horse-drawn carts), and angkotas (public mini-vans). In addition to the university where we have our language classes, the city also includes a bustling market, a star-rated hotel/spa, and lots of good little restaurants. Our quiet neighborhood near the edge of town also provides quiet walks along rural roads through groves of banana, palm, and cassava.

Returning to Papua
On October 4 we will arrive back in Papua. So our next entries will be from there.

Arrival back in Papua
On Oct 4 we arrived at Sentani Airport. We have made several trips (45 min each way) from our campus in Abepura to Jayapura with lovely views of the harbor. We recently met with a group of former “IVEPers” – young people who spent a year in North America under the International Visitor Exchange Program of MCC.

Our House in Abepura
We live in half of a duplex perched at the top of a very steep street and driveway. We have wonderful views down over our campus and out over the surrounding hills. The interior is more than adequate for our needs, including a spacious kitchen and an air conditioned bedroom.

Beginning Assignment (Ron)
During the past two weeks Ron has visited one, and sometimes two, math classes each day either in the elementary or the secondary teacher training programs. A class period lasts for about 3 hours. It has been very interesting and he is learning a lot of new mathematical terminology in Indonesian. Teaching styles vary widely, as they do in other parts of the world, but student behavior tends to be a lot more subdued and respectful than in North America! He has especially enjoyed helping to introduce some new computer software in a lab for a geometry class and helping to introduce some manipulatives for use in an elementary classroom. (Photos later)

Beginning Assignment (Sally Jo)
This week we began to meet other faculty and get introduced to the School of Education facilities where we are located in the old campus. We were both assigned to a large office, actually an empty classroom outfitted with two desks and a few chairs for meetings with others. Sally Jo will assist in two small libraries one for the secondary education program and one for the elementary program. There is a lot of organization needed, but the first priority identified by the local librarians is to get their records computerized.

Visit to the University Library (New Campus)
We paid a visit to the main campus this week to see what resources are available there and to make some contacts for future assistance. It is a beautiful building, but there is also a lot of need to update their limited resources.

Fun with Visitors
This past weekend we had MCC team visitors from Jogjakarta for three nights. On Saturday we all went to the beach called Base G on the Pacific Ocean named during the Second World War. Then in the evening we enjoyed eating at a fish restaurant and watching the sun go down over Lake Sentani.

Papuan Museum
Our campus includes a nice museum representing many of the indigenous groups of Papua. The pillars around the outside of the building are decorated with traditional Papuan motifs. Inside are many artifacts, including fine wood carvings, musical instruments, and preserved specimens of different varieties of the Bird of Paradise.

We have just had a long weekend due to the holidays following the end of Ramadan. We used some of that time to go on two outings with Papuan friends. The first was a 2-hour drive (one-way) past beautiful coastal scenery to a quiet spot beside a clear cool stream where we enjoyed a picnic and swimming. The second was a hike up the mountains behind our house. That was much more strenuous but provided excellent views of Abepura, where we live and work. There was also a beautiful valley at the top that we explored before returning.